Army to buy 14 Chinese battle tanks

Army to buy 14 Chinese battle tanks

The Royal Thai Army plans to purchase 14 more heavy tanks from China, underscoring the closer defence ties between Bangkok and Beijing.

An army source said yesterday the army would buy another 14 VT4 tanks, plus ammunition, for 2.3 billion baht to supplement the 39 tanks purchased in 2016 and 2017.

The VT4 is a third-generation main battle tank built in China for export.

Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong has assigned the task to his assistant, Gen Wijak Siribansop, chairman of the procurement panel, the source said.

Gen Wijak will travel to China in late February to gauge the tanks' performance, and the procurement proposal is expected to reach the cabinet in March, the source added.

The first order consisting of 28 VT4 tanks in 2016 cost 4.9 billion baht. A second batch of 11 in 2017 cost 2 billion baht.

The were deployed to the 3rd Cavalry Division in Khon Kaen.

The latest deal was arranged in talks between Gen Han Weiguo, commander of the People's Liberation Army, and Gen Apirat during his visit to Beijing from Jan 6-9, the source said.

The army's top soldier also met China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Jan 7.

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